Download Now – Summer 2016 Newsletter (PDF 250k)
Disaster Readiness With Your Smartphone
We all know we should be prepared for a disaster. For those of us living in earthquake country, we understand we need an emergency kit in case help is not available immediately. While extra water, canned and dry food, and a generator are helpful when a natural disaster occurs, we can also prepare our technology before a disaster strikes.
Below are a few tips where technology may be able to help before, during, and after a disaster:
- Back up all your contact information to a cloud service. Apple phones and devices use iCloud, while other phones can use Google Drive. Make sure your backups are running automatically. Even if you can’t get to your phone/device during a disaster, having a cloud based backup system will give you a chance to retrieve your contact information from any computer. It’s also a good idea to memorize or write down the phone numbers of your most important contacts.
- Make sure your device is prepared for a disaster. Have backup batteries available (and charged). Remove unnecessary apps that may drain your battery. Replace parts such as damaged screens which may impair your device’s functionality just when you need it most. Have a mobile charger available.
- Consider downloading apps now that can help during a disaster. FEMA has a free app available for both Apple and Android phones. This app has four main components.
- Weather: You can set up weather alerts for up to 5 different areas of the country.
- Prepare: Lists 16 different possible disasters (from floods, to earthquakes, to tsunamis, to terrorism). Information
is available on how to prepare before a particular disaster, what to do during, and how to respond afterwards. Additionally, you can sign up for text alerts and tips from FEMA, learn how to build an emergency kit and designate emergency meeting spots for friends and family.
- Disaster Resources: Lists of FEMA shelters and contacts for FEMA including how to apply for assistance.
- Photographs: Admittedly, taking photos may not be your first priority during a disaster, but FEMA has set up this spot to allow users to submit photos of disaster areas. Presumably, this will allow them to better respond to a particular disaster.
- Download the Red Cross Emergency free app and the Red Cross First Aid free app. The Emergency app is similar to FEMA’s app; various types of emergencies are listed and advice is given about what to do before, during and after. However, the Red Cross app does have a few more localized emergencies that FEMA does not include. Examples of some additional emergencies listed in the Red Cross app are, “Chemical Emergency at Home,” “Extreme Heat,” and “Power Outage.” The Red Cross app will also (if you allow it) detect where you are located and can direct you to local help. In the section, “Chemical Emergency at Home,” a user can click a link in the app and be directed to the local Poison Control Center. If you need a little extra something to do, there’s even a series of quizzes in this app that test your emergency knowledge.
Meanwhile, the Red Cross First Aid app helps guide the user through diagnosing a particular condition, how to treat it, and when to get emergency help. This app looks to be quite handy even outside of a major disaster.
While we certainly hope none of us experiences a disaster, we can plan for it and be proactive. With the advances in technology and mobile phone technology, we can take a few more steps to prepare for future emergencies.
Job Growth and Public Sector Employment Growth by Presidential Term
You read a lot about job creation and governmental policies, especially in this era of lingering, lagging economic growth and especially from political figures who are hoping to get elected based on their policy prescriptions. Republican candidates like to talk about the growth of jobs during Ronald Regan’s presidency while Democrats tout the presidential terms of Bill Clinton.
But has anybody ever calculated the actual growth in jobs during the various presidential administrations, and compared them?
Recently, the website Calculated Risk took a deep dive into a pair of interesting job growth statistics for presidential terms going back to Jimmy Carter’s one-term presidency. The numbers are probably not what you would expect.
The website started with private sector jobs added, and published these results for each presidential term:
Carter: 9.041 million Clinton II: 10.082 million
Reagan I: 5.360 million GW Bush I: <811,000>
Reagan II: 9.357 million GW Bush II: 415,000
GHW Bush: 1.510 million Obama I: 1.921 million
Clinton I: 10.884 million Obama II: 8.297 million (projected to 10.480 at the current pace)
These numbers, to some extent, reflect the circumstances of the times. George W. Bush had the disadvantage of taking office right as the stock market bubble burst, and he left office during the bursting of the housing bubble. President Obama took office during the financial crisis and Great Recession. Meanwhile, Bill Clinton managed to preside over two terms without a recession.
A second chart is equally interesting; it charts the growth of public sector jobs added during each president’s term—a somewhat crude measure of their fiscal conservatism. You might not be surprised to know that the Carter and second Clinton administrations both, of course, Democratic added the second and third-most public sector jobs to our nation’s payroll. But the first place winner in this category, and some of the other numbers, might surprise you.
Carter: 1.30 million Clinton II: 1.242 million
Reagan I: <24,000> GW Bush II: 900,000
Reagan II: 1.438 million GW Bush II: 844,000
GHW Bush: 1.127 million Obama I: <708,000>
Clinton I: 692,000 Obama II: 211,000 (projected to 267,000 at the current pace)
President Reagan cut public sector jobs in his first term, but went on an unprecedented hiring spree in his second. George W. Bush and Bill Clinton added roughly the same number of jobs to the public payroll, and both added fewer, per year, than George H.W. Bush during his one four-year term. Meanwhile, our current president is the only one to post a net decline in public sector jobs.
What are we to make of all this? Possibly nothing since politicians will cherry-pick numbers or, in some cases, simply make them up appeal to voters. But it also suggests that presidential candidates who run on a platform of expanding government might end up contracting it, and those who want to reduce government might end up expanding it. Those whose espoused policies you might expect to expand jobs might find themselves fighting to contain job losses in the private sector. Don’t be too surprised by a disconnect between policy prescriptions and results after our next election.
Source: A Bob Veres article
Creating More Meaningful Estate Documents
In our last newsletter we wrote about the importance of creating an estate plan and the probate expense that can be avoided by having those estate planning documents in place. Recently, Karla and Andy attended a workshop given by an estate planning attorney from the Purposeful Planning Institute. In his presentation he emphasized moving beyond the traditional estate plan by encouraging all of us to create greater meaning through a variety of additional and more personal documents.
Once the initial estate plan is in place with the requisite will(s), trust(s), various powers of attorney, etc., we might also consider adding documents that add nurture and guidance to our plan. The first document we discussed was called, “The Guardian’s Roadmap.” This document can be used for those with minor children. His analogy was that when we leave our children with a babysitter, we often leave a detailed list of instructions. The guardian’s roadmap is a list of instructions for your permanent babysitter, i.e., the guardian(s) you identify in your will and the person who will care for your children if you die or become unable to care for them. What would you want to tell the guardian(s) about your children? What should they know about the kids’ likes and dislikes, habits, bedtime, etc.? How can they be a good caretaker for your children? Another document was titled, ”A Parent’s Bucket List”. This is a list of things that you hope to do with your children. It can include activities, travel, experiences, etc. You certainly can use it as a working document during your lifetime, but in the event of your premature death, your children’s guardian could work on the list in your absence and let the kids know this is something their parents wanted them to experience.
A third document included writing letters to both the trustee(s) of your estate and to your beneficiaries. We discussed calling them, “Owner’s Manual – or How Do I Become an Excellent Beneficiary” and “Operator’s Manual Instructions for Trustee.” For beneficiaries, you can write about how you would like them to handle or use the money, perhaps give some guidance or help them know where to find guidance. For the trustee, perhaps you’d like to offer some guidance as well and add clarification to your estate documents, which can be difficult to decipher at times.
Moving beyond instructions, we also talked about leaving letters or notes about your values or memories or a history you’d like them to know. Sometimes parents will write a letter to their child at major milestones. For example, a new parent could write one called, “Memories of the Day You Were Born” or later, “I Won the Child Lottery.” In these letters you describe the feelings you have about being a parent and what it means to you. Some go even further and describe things they’d like their child to know at certain milestones (graduation, wedding, birth of a child). It’s a way to leave your child part of your legacy even if you cannot be there in person to tell them.
While estate planning documents can be somewhat cold and clinical, these documents can truly impart your wishes and dreams for those you leave behind and give you a sense of satisfaction that in the event of your death, you have provided your most important and personal thoughts and best wishes for their future.